SANTA FE ― Fire managers on the Santa Fe National Forest (SFNF) continue to manage the lightning-caused Ojitos Fire on the Coyote Ranger District and the Deer Creek Fire on the Jemez Ranger District by using low-intensity fire on the ground to achieve multiple resource benefits.
The Ojitos Fire is at 2,850 acres within a planning area of 7,610 acres on the boundary of the Chama River Canyon Wilderness. Fire crews continue to use natural barriers like roads, rocky mesas and drainages to keep the fire within the planning area. Fire managers plan to use a combination of hand and aerial ignition techniques on the Ojitos Fire.
The Deer Creek Fire on Peggy Mesa is at 140 acres within a planning area of 1,022 acres. Fire managers yesterday continued to scout, improve and prep the perimeter of the fire with hand line and natural barriers like roads and rocky mesas. Crews will use hand ignitions today to blackline the perimeter, and aerial ignitions may begin as early as Sunday and conclude on Monday.
The top priority on all wildland fire is firefighter and public safety. The decreased complexity of managing a natural ignition for resource benefit reduces the risk and gives forest managers greater control over fire effects.
Historically, low-intensity wildfires burned through southwestern dry conifer forests like the SFNF every seven to 15 years on average as part of a natural cycle that removed leaf litter, eradicated disease and thinned the understory, making room for new growth. Managing a lightning-caused ignition like the Deer Creek Fire mimics that natural process.
Smoke from the Ojitos Fire may be visible the Rio Chama, the Monastery of Christ in the Desert, nearby mesas, NM Highways 84 and 96. Smoke from the Deer Creek Fire may be visible from US Highway 550, Jemez Pueblo and the communities of Gilman and Cañon.
Smoke will be monitored to ensure that the New Mexico Environment Department’s Air Quality Bureau regulations are being met. Smoke-sensitive individuals and those with respiratory or heart disease should take precautionary measures.
Information on air quality and your health is available online at the New Mexico Department of Health’s website at https://nmtracking.org/fire.